Longtime Palacios, Collegeport preacher of the ‘auld sod’

Rev. George Gillespie

   For 28 years, the Presbyterian churches in Palacios and Collegeport were led by a “true son of the auld sod.”  
   George Frederic Gillespie, who had a true compassion for the people in his churches, also had a far-reaching influence on all residents of those communities. 
   His influence actually lasted until his death, 32 years after he arrived in Palacios. 
   George Frederic Gillespie was born in Down County, near Belfast, Northern Ireland on March 16, 1874. 
   He was the 10th child of the known 11 children born to James Gillespie and Margaret McBirney Gillespie. 
   Two of George’s aunts, Jane and Leticia Gillespie, immigrated to the United States and were employed as dressmakers from 1860 – 1872. 
   Leticia married in 1872 and lived the remainder of her life in Jo Daviess County, Illinois. 
   They were the only relatives George had in the United States and he visited them every year on his vacation. 


Bay City National Guard left for Mexico 100 years ago

Photo courtesy of Haskell Simon
Company G in 1916. Haskell Simon’s father, Sgt. Aaron Simon, was on the far right on the front row.

   The days of ’61 were recalled by the old Confederates who looked on the scene. Mr. D. A. Coston and wife were there to see their son Grover off. Capt. J. C. Jones, whose son C.R. is one of the company, and W. H. Pressley and Capt. Frank Rugeley formed a little group waiting for the start.  
   M. Pressley said “This reminds me of the start for the war in 1861, when I marched off with the first company from Leon county, the “Leon Hunters.” 
   Some people said ‘Oh it won’t last long,’ but it lasted four years, the last two I spent at Fort Delaware, where I was condemned as a spy and sentenced to be shot, but escaped by swimming the bay.” 


2016 marks Collegeport community’s 108th year

Photo courtesy of the Holsworth Family Archives
Collegeport “business district - E.A. and Helen Holsworth owned the two-story store in the center.

   All friends of Collegeport are invited to join the celebration of  Collegeport Day Saturday, May 28, at the Mopac House. 
   The traditional barbecue dinner will begin at noon. 
   Please bring side dishes and desserts to complete the meal.
Collegeport Day commemorates our community’s founding in 1908. 
   Each year since then, residents and friends have gathered to celebrate this occasion. 
   The annual barbecue began in 1945 when M.S. “Jack” Holsworth donated the beef for the celebration. 
   The Collegeport Day homecoming is celebrated the last Saturday in May.
   Barbecue preparations begin mid-afternoon on Friday and continue until dinnertime on Saturday.
   Come and experience this tradition as well!    
   Remaining barbecue will be sold at the pit after dinner.
   Volunteers who assist with set-up of tables and chairs on Saturday morning, and with clean-up after dinner, are greatly appreciated.


Holsworth family long, active part of Collegeport

Photo courtesy of the Holsworth Family Archives
Collegeport graduates. Margaret Holsworth, center, taught school in Collegeport for many years.

Around the turn of the last century, developers encouraged the colonization of the Texas Gulf Coast region. 
   Collegeport, established in 1908, was promoted as “The Town of Opportunity” by its developer, the Burton D. Hurd Land Company. 
   Numerous mid-western families were enticed to settle in this bustling new community, but economic reversals soon forced many of them to return to their former homes. 
   Mid-westerners, Edwin Arthur Holsworth and Helen Manners Pettigrew Holsworth came to Collegeport in 1910 from Joliet, Ill., to build a home and to enjoy retirement from their foundry business in Illinois. 
   They were among the earliest families to settle here, and quickly became involved in church and civic organizations, and also operated a store in the town. 
   Their descendants remained active in community affairs, in the First Presbyterian Church of Collegeport, and as farmers and ranchers. 


Bay City caught in fury of 1909 ‘Velasco’ hurricane

Courtesy of Matagorda County Museum
Wall collapse on the northwest corner of the Boney Building on the east side of the square.

Headlines from Houston Post over its news articles tied to 1909 hurricane impact in Matagorda County.
 Fifty Per Cent of Business and Residence Section Damaged and Loss Will Total $250,000
 Under Martial Law
 Army of Constables Sworn In to Protect Property
 But One Loss of Life
Infant of Mr. Calloway Was Crushed Under Falling Walls
 The Town is in Need of Help
Carpenters Are Needed to Rebuild Razed Structures—-City Is in Darkness and Water Supply Has Been Cut Off
   Bay City, Texas, July 23 — With martial law proclaimed, the city in darkness, cut off without water supply and a lack of help to clear away the ruins, Bay City tonight is slowly recovering from the storm of yesterday which spent the fury upon this vicinity. 
   But one life was claimed by the hurricane - that of an infant of Mr. Calloway - while others suffered more or less painful injuries by flying glass or falling debris. 


Civil War-era markers dedication

Ceremonies at Matagorda Cemetery included cannon and musket firings by re-enactors in honor of a marker recognizing the 22 Confederate survivors of the Matagorda Incident in December 1863 and for Matagorda’s yellow fever epidemic in 1862. For more, see History, Page 4.
Bay City Sentinel photo/Mike Reddell


Ceremony dedicates 2 Civil War-era markers

Bay City Sentinel Photo/Mike Reddell

   Two new state historical markers for the Matagorda Incident and the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1862 were dedicated at Matagorda Cemetery - accented by Civil War-era cannon and muskets fired by Confederate re-enactors.
   About 55 people attended the ceremony that also marked the rededication of the white marble E.S. Rugeley Company D Monument to the 22 Confederates lost in Matagorda Bay trying to defend against a Union invasion.
   Three groups presented the ceremony – the Matagorda Cemetery Association, the Matagorda Historical Society and the Matagorda County Historical Commission.  


Dallam became Matagorda publisher, lawyer

James Dallam’s grave marker at Matagorda Cemetery.

    James Wilmer Dallam, legal scholar, newspaper publisher, and author, the son of Francis Johnson and Sarah (Wilmer) Dallam, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on Sept. 24, 1818. 
   Following his graduation in 1837 from Brown University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, he studied law in Baltimore in the office of Reverdy Johnson. 
   In 1839 Dallam moved to Matagorda, Texas, where he quickly made a place for himself in the frontier community. 
   In 1844 he went to Washington, D.C., to compile A Digest of the Laws of Texas: Containing a Full and Complete Compilation of the Land Laws; Together with the Opinions of the Supreme Court. 
   Published in Baltimore by John D. Troy in 1845, Dallam’s Digest, as the work is familiarly known, has been called the “lawyer’s Bible” and has gone through several printings: 1881, 1883, and 1904. 


Bethlehem Church centerpiece of Cedar Lake history

The state historical marker for Bethlehem Christian Church, above, refers to the church building, above right, built in 1951, that was replaced by the present church today.

   Cedar Lake,on Farm Road 2611 just west of the Brazoria county line in southeastern Matagorda County, was named for a cedar brake surrounding a nearby lake. 
   A post office operated there from 1848 until 1855. 
   In September 1854 the name was changed to Dura, and in November, to Duroc. 
   The Ewing Plantation was in the area of Cedar Lake by 1860. 
   When Roberta Ewing died, she was buried in the Cedar Lake Church cemetery, but the grave has no marker.
   In 1870, there were 28 families in the Cedar Lake area.
   The Bethlehem Christian Church began in 1872 with the Rev. Henry Woodard as pastor.
   Freedmen worshipped there and were buried in the cemetery.
   A post office known as Roweville operated from 1890 until 1893, when the community changed the name to Cedar Lake. 
   A large store was built on the banks of Cedar Lake.


Lacy Cemetery

Lacy Cemetery is one of Matagorda County’s oldest.

  At one time this cemetery was also known as Trespalacios Creek Cemetery.  
   It is on the east bank of the creek and is one of the oldest burial grounds in the area. 
   The graves were originally marked by wooden markers and logs, but supposedly railroad workers used them for fire wood. Mrs. Mamie Pierce Withers, a granddaughter of Sarah Bright and William D. Lacy, erected a monument and fenced the cemetery.  
   There is some confusion as to the burials in the cemetery. William D. Lacy’s name appears on the marker, but he died and is buried in Kentucky. 


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